Source: Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Large quantities of plant stalks, fruit and vegetable skins, husks and pods occur as waste in organic farming. In an EU-funded project, researchers at the Fraunhofer IGB, in cooperation with international partners from science and industry, intend to use this waste to produce biosurfactants for natural cosmetics, Informationsdienst Wissenschaft reports.
Annually about 18 million tonnes of surfactants are manufactured, mainly by chemical means and on a petroleum base. A quarter is now manufactured from the oils of renewable resources, generally coconut or palm kernel oil. Microorganisms also produce washing-active substances that are called biosurfactants. However, only few of these biosurfactants are manufactured industrially, since their production is still comparatively expensive. In order to make biosurfactants economically profitable for natural cosmetics, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB are developing a sustainable, cost-cutting production process in an EU-funded project. This project was launched on 1 January 2012 and is named “O4S – Sustainable surfactant production from renewable resources through natural fermentation for applications in natural, organically-certified products”.
The researchers intend to use wastes containing cellulose or oil and residual materials from organic farming as resources for a biotechnological process. If cellulose is converted into its basic building block glucose, the sugar molecules are available to the microorganisms as a substrate. In the project, first of all various naturally occurring strains of microorganisms are examined with regard to their potential applications.
The use of waste products from organic farming both reduces the production costs and also ensures the sustainability of the biosurfactants. The researchers of the Fraunhofer IGB work together with partners such as Natrue, Naturland, and others for certification. More information is available here: http://idw-online.de/pages/de/news467471